UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
FADI AL MAQALEH, et al.,
v. Civil Action No. 06-1669
ROBERT GATES, et al.,
HAJI WAZIR, et al.,
v. Civil Action No. 06-1697
ROBERT GATES, et al.,
AMIN AL BAKRI, et al.,
v. Civil Action No. 08-1307
BARACK H. OBAMA, et al.,
REDHA AL-NAJAR, et al.,
v. Civil Action No. 08-2143
ROBERT GATES, et al.,
Before the Court are respondents' motions to dismiss these four petitions for habeas
corpus. The petitioners are all foreign nationals captured outside Afghanistan yet held at the
Bagram Theater Internment Facility at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan for six years or more.
The issue at the heart of these cases is whether these petitioners may, in the wake of Boumediene
v. Bush, 128 S. Ct. 2229 (2008), invoke the Suspension Clause of the Constitution, Art I. § 9 cl.
2. If so, then section 7(a) of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (quot;MCAquot;), Pub. L. No. 109-
366, 120 Stat. 2600, is unconstitutional as applied to these petitioners and they are entitled to
seek the protection of the writ of habeas corpus. But if not, then these petitions must be
dismissed as respondents have urged.
The issues here closely parallel those in Boumediene, in large part because the detainees
themselves as well as the rationale for detention are essentially the same. The case calls for the
first application of the multi-factor functional test crafted by the Supreme Court in Boumediene,
and the same vital jurisprudential concerns at play there also frame the analysis here.
It must be remembered, then, that the writ of habeas corpus plays a central role in our
constitutional system as conceived by the Framers, which quot;must inform proper interpretation of
the Suspension Clause.quot; Boumediene, 128 S. Ct. at 2244. Indeed, quot;the Framers deemed the writ
to be an essential mechanism in the separation-of-powers scheme,quot; id. at 2246, that, as Alexander
Hamilton observed, was vital to the protection of individuals against the very same arbitrary
exercise of the government's power to detain that is alleged by petitioners here:
quot;[C]onfinement of the person, by secretly hurrying him to jail,
where his sufferings are unknown or forgotten, is a less public, a
less striking, and therefore a more dangerous engine of arbitrary
government.quot; And as a remedy for this fatal evil [Blackstone] is
everywhere peculiarly emphatical in his encomiums on the habeas
corpus act, which in one place he calls quot;the bulwark of the British
Boumediene, 128 S. Ct. at 2247 (quoting The Federalist No. 84, at 512 (Alexander Hamilton) (C.
Rossiter ed., 1961) (quoting 1 W. Blackstone, Commentaries *136)) (emphasis in original).
So, too, the Suspension Clause was forged to guard against such Executive abuses, by
protecting those detained through the assurance, except in the strictly-confined periods of
suspension, that quot;the Judiciary will have a time-tested device, the writ, to maintain the 'delicate
balance of governance' that is itself the surest safeguard of liberty.quot; Boumediene, 128 S. Ct. at
2247 (quoting Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, 542 U.S. 507, 536 (2004) (plurality opinion)). Hence, quot;[t]he
separation-of-powers doctrine . . . must inform the reach and purpose of the Suspension Clause.quot;
Id. But that principle requires, as well, that the Judiciary accord proper deference to the political
branches, particularly during conflicts abroad where the Executive must retain quot;substantial
authority to apprehend and detain those who pose a real danger to our security.quot; Id. at 2277. In
the end, though, while quot;the Executive's powers as Commander in Chiefquot; must be preserved, the
courts still must fulfill their responsibility to review, with appropriate caution, the exercise of
Within the Constitution's separation-of-powers structure, few
exercises of judicial power are as legitimate or as necessary as the
responsibility to hear challenges to the authority of the Executive
to imprison a person. Some of these petitioners have been in
custody for six years with no definitive judicial determination as to
the legality of their detention. Their access to the writ is a
necessity to determine the lawfulness of their status, even if, in the
end, they do not obtain the relief they seek.
This Court's role, and this decision, is nonetheless quite narrow, and is limited today to
assessing whether the Suspension Clause extends to these four petitioners and hence whether
they are entitled to seek habeas corpus in this Court. Applying the Boumediene factors carefully,
the Court concludes that these petitioners are virtually identical to the detainees in Boumediene --
they are non-citizens who were (as alleged here) apprehended in foreign lands far from the
United States and brought to yet another country for detention. And as in Boumediene, these
petitioners have been determined to be quot;enemy combatants,quot; a status they contest. Moreover, the
process used to make that determination is inadequate and, indeed, significantly less than the
Guantanamo detainees in Boumediene received. Although the site of detention at Bagram is not
identical to that at Guantanamo Bay, the quot;objective degree of controlquot; asserted by the United
States there is not appreciably different than at Guantanamo. Finally, it cannot be denied that the
quot;practical obstaclesquot; inherent in resolving a Bagram detainee's entitlement to habeas corpus are in
some ways greater than those present for a Guantanamo detainee, because Bagram is located in
an active theater of war. But those obstacles are not as great as respondents claim, and certainly
are not insurmountable. And importantly, for these petitioners, such practical barriers are largely
of the Executive's choosing -- they were all apprehended elsewhere and then brought (i.e.,
rendered) to Bagram for detention now exceeding six years.
Based on those conclusions driven by application of the Boumediene test, the Court
concludes that the Suspension Clause extends to, and hence habeas corpus review is available to,
three of the four petitioners. As to the fourth, his Afghan citizenship -- given the unique
quot;practical obstaclesquot; in the form of friction with the quot;hostquot; country -- is enough to tip the balance
of the Boumediene factors against his claim to habeas corpus review. When a Bagram detainee
has either been apprehended in Afghanistan or is a citizen of that country, the balance of factors
may change. Although it may seem odd that different conclusions can be reached for different
detainees at Bagram, in this Court's view that is the predictable outcome of the functional, multi-
factor, detainee-by-detainee test the Supreme Court has mandated in Boumediene.
All four petitioners in these cases have been detained as quot;enemy combatantsquot; by the
United States at the Bagram Theater Internment Facility at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan
(quot;Bagramquot;). All four claim to have been captured outside Afghanistan and contest their
designation as enemy combatants.1 Fadi al Maqaleh, a Yemeni citizen who was taken into U.S.
custody sometime in 2003, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus on September 28, 2006.
Maqaleh Am. Habeas Pet. ¶¶ 11, 14. He claims that he was captured beyond Afghan borders but
does not specify where. Id. ¶¶ 24-25. Haji Wazir, an Afghan citizen, filed a habeas petition on
September 29, 2006.2 Wazir Habeas Pet. ¶ 2. Wazir was captured in Dubai, United Arab
Emirates in 2002 and has been in U.S. custody since. See Declaration of Jawed Ahmad ¶ 31
(attached as Exhibit 1 to Wazir Opp'n to Resps.' Mot. to Dismiss (quot;Wazir Opp'nquot;)). Amin al
Bakri is a Yemeni citizen, captured by U.S. forces in Thailand in 2002, who filed a petition
seeking habeas review on July 28, 2008. Bakri Habeas Pet. ¶¶ 2-3. Redha al-Najar filed a
habeas petition on December 10, 2008. Al-Najar is a citizen of Tunisia who was captured in
Pakistan in 2002. Al-Najar Habeas Pet. ¶¶ 12, 25.
Recently, the Executive Branch has decided to abandon the term quot;enemy combatantquot; as
to detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, but not necessarily for those at Bagram. See note 11, infra.
Each of these petitioners was determined to be an enemy combatant through the process at
Bagram for determining a detainee's status, and that term has been employed by the parties in the
briefing. Hence, the Court will use it as well.
Wazir originally filed his petition along with three other Bagram detainees, Mohammad
Omar, Gul Mohammad, and Haji Naqib. Omar, Mohammad, and Naqib have since been released
from U.S. custody. Hence, only Wazir's petition remains pending before the Court.
Respondents dispute some of the facts alleged in the habeas petitions. Although
respondents do not contest any petitioner's claim as to his country of citizenship, they do take
issue with some petitioners' statements as to the place of their capture. For example, respondents
contest al Maqaleh's claim that he was captured outside Afghanistan. See Declaration of Charles
A. Tennison ¶ 20 (attached as Exhibit 1 to Resps.' Mot. to Dismiss al Maqaleh's Habeas Pet.
(quot;Resps.' Maqaleh Mot.quot;)).
After al Maqaleh and Wazir filed their habeas petitions, but before al Bakri and al-Najar
filed their petitions, the Supreme Court decided Boumediene v. Bush, 128 S. Ct. 2229 (2008).3
In that case, the Supreme Court considered habeas petitions filed by quot;aliens designated as enemy
combatants and detained at the United States Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.quot; Id. at
2240. The Court first determined that section 7 of the MCA quot;deprives the federal courts of
jurisdiction to entertain the habeas corpus actions now before us.quot; Id. at 2242-44. The Court
then examined quot;whether [petitioners] have the constitutional privilege of habeas corpus, a
privilege not to be withdrawn except in conformance with the Suspension Clause.quot; Id. at 2240.
In a lengthy five-to-four opinion, the Supreme Court first determined that the Suspension Clause
of the Constitution has quot;full effectquot; at Guantanamo Bay and detainees at Guantanamo quot;are
entitled to the privilege of habeas corpus to challenge the legality of their detention.quot; Id. at 2262.
The Court then held that the process Guantanamo detainees receive pursuant to the Detainee
Treatment Act of 2005 (quot;DTAquot;), Pub. L. No. 109-148, 119 Stat. 2739, is not an adequate
substitute for habeas review. Id. at 2262-74. Hence, the Court quot;h[e]ld these petitioners do have
This Court stayed al Maqaleh's and Wazir's petitions while underlying jurisdictional
issues were pending before the Supreme Court and the D.C. Circuit, including the Boumediene
the habeas corpus privilege . . . [and t]herefore § 7 of the [MCA] operates as an unconstitutional
suspension of the writ.quot; Id. at 2240.
After Boumediene, respondents filed the pending motions to dismiss these petitioners'
habeas petitions for lack of jurisdiction, and the parties filed opposition and reply memoranda.
The Court consolidated the four cases for argument on the jurisdictional issue and held a motions
hearing on January 7, 2009, in which petitioners were represented by able counsel. Because of
the change in the Presidential Administration, the Court on January 22, 2009 invited respondents
to notify the Court whether they intended to refine the position that they had taken to date. On
February 20, 2009, respondents informed the Court that quot;the Government adheres to its
previously articulated position.quot; See Al Maqaleh v. Gates, Civ.A.No. 06-1669 (dkt ent. #30).
Hence, the issues are fully briefed and ripe for resolution. As the analysis below makes clear, the
application of the Supreme Court's Boumediene decision to these four petitioners is at the center
of these cases and respondents' motion.
quot;[R]esponding to a habeas petition with a motion to dismiss is common practice.quot; White
v. Lewis, 874 F.2d 599, 603 (9th Cir.1989) (citing Murray v. Carrier, 477 U.S. 478, 483 (1986)).
A motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction in habeas cases, like jurisdictional
motions in other civil cases, is subject to review under the standards of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. See Rasul v. Bush, 215 F. Supp. 2d 55, 61 (D.D.C. 2002), aff'd, Al Odah v. United
States, 321 F.3d 1134 (D.C. Cir. 2003), rev'd on other grounds, Rasul v. Bush, 542 U.S. 466
(2004) (applying Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) to the government's motion to dismiss a pending habeas
petition on jurisdictional grounds); see also In re Guantanamo Detainee Cases, 355 F. Supp. 2d
443, 453 (D.D.C. 2005), vacated, Boumediene v. Bush, 476 F.3d 981 (D.C. Cir. 2007), rev'd,
Boumediene v. Bush, 128 S. Ct. 2229 (2008) (quot;The respondents . . . seek dismissal of all counts
as a matter of law under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) for failing to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted. In the alternative, the respondents seek a judgment based on the pleadings pursuant
to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c).quot;).
Under Rule 12(b)(1), those seeking to invoke the jurisdiction of a federal court --
petitioners here -- bear the burden of establishing that the court has jurisdiction. See US
Ecology, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of Interior, 231 F.3d 20, 24 (D.C. Cir. 2000) (citing Steel Co. v.
Citizens for a Better Env't, 523 U.S. 83, 103-04 (1998)); see also Grand Lodge of Fraternal Order
of Police v. Ashcroft, 185 F. Supp. 2d 9, 13 (D.D.C. 2001) (quot;[A] Rule 12(b)(1) motion imposes
on the court an affirmative obligation to ensure that it is acting within the scope of its
jurisdictional authority.quot;); Pitney Bowes, Inc. v. U.S. Postal Serv., 27 F. Supp. 2d 15, 19 (D.D.C.
1998). Although a court must accept as true all of petitioners' factual allegations when reviewing
a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), see Leatherman v. Tarrant Cty. Narcotics
Intelligence & Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 164 (1993), quot;'factual allegations . . . will bear
closer scrutiny in resolving a 12(b)(1) motion' than in resolving a 12(b)(6) motion for failure to
state a claim.quot; Grand Lodge, 185 F. Supp. 2d at 13-14 (quoting 5A Charles Alan Wright &
Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1350 (2d ed. 1990)). At the stage of litigation
when dismissal is sought, a petitioner's habeas petition must be construed liberally, and the
petitioner should receive the benefit of all favorable inferences that can be drawn from the
alleged facts. See EEOC v. St. Francis Xavier Parochial Sch., 117 F.3d 621, 624 (D.C. Cir.
1997). Additionally, a court may consider material other than the allegations in the habeas
petition in determining whether it has jurisdiction to hear the case, so long as it still accepts the
factual allegations in the habeas petition as true. See Jerome Stevens Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v.
FDA, 402 F.3d 1249, 1253-54 (D.C. Cir. 2005); St. Francis Xavier Parochial Sch., 117 F.3d at
624-25 n.3; Herbert v. Nat'l Acad. of Scis., 974 F.2d 192, 197 (D.C. Cir. 1992).
Respondents seek to dismiss these four habeas petitions for lack of jurisdiction.
Petitioners oppose respondents' motions on several grounds, arguing that: (1) this Court has
statutory jurisdiction to entertain these habeas petitions under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, see al Maqaleh
Opp'n to Resps.' Mot. to Dismiss (quot;Maqaleh Opp'nquot;) at 17-21; (2) the MCA unconstitutionally
suspends habeas rights without providing an adequate substitute, see id. at 23-31, 33-58; (3)
MCA § 7 works an unconstitutional usurpation of the judiciary's Article III powers, see id. at 21-
23; (4) MCA § 7 is an unconstitutional quot;permanentquot; suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, see
id. at 23-31; (5) petitioners have not had their status determined by a quot;competent tribunalquot;
pursuant to MCA § 3, see id. at 31-33; and (6) petitioners' detention violates the rule of law, the
Constitution, and international law, see id. at 58-68. The Court will begin by addressing
petitioner's first argument: whether federal courts have statutory jurisdiction under § 2241.
Petitioner's second argument presents the key issue in these cases, and the Court accordingly
devotes the majority of the analysis to it. The Court will then briefly address petitioners'
remaining four arguments.
I. Statutory Habeas Jurisdiction Under 28 U.S.C. § 2241
Petitioners argue that this Court has statutory jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 2241.
Resolution of this argument requires some familiarity with the cases and statutes leading to the
Supreme Court's opinion in Boumediene. See generally Bismullah v. Gates, 551 F.3d 1068,
1073-74 (D.C. Cir. 2009) (reviewing cases and statutes leading to Boumediene). The first
Supreme Court case to address the rights of detainees held at Guantanamo Bay was Rasul v.
Bush, 542 U.S. 466 (2004). In Rasul, the Supreme Court held that alien detainees designated as
enemy combatants could invoke the federal habeas statute, 28 U.S.C. § 2241, to challenge their
detention at Guantanamo. The same day, the Supreme Court issued a decision in Hamdi v.
Rumsfeld, 542 U.S. 507 (2004), which focused on the due process rights of U.S. citizens
detained as enemy combatants. The following year, in response to the Supreme Court's rulings,
Congress passed the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 (quot;DTAquot;), Pub. L. No. 109-148, 119 Stat.
2739, which mandates humane treatment of detainees and sets forth a process for testing the
legality of detention. See DTA §§ 1002-03, 1005(e)(2). The DTA also amended the federal
habeas statute by stripping federal courts of jurisdiction to entertain habeas petitions filed by
Guantanamo detainees. Id. § 1005(e)(1). But the next year, the Supreme Court decided Hamdan
v. Rumsfeld, 548 U.S. 557, 575-76 (2006), which held, among other things, that the DTA could
not be applied retroactively to bar habeas petitions pending at the time of the DTA's enactment.
Within a few months, however, Congress passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006
(quot;MCAquot;), Pub. L. No. 109-366, 120 Stat. 2600. In section 7(a), Congress again amended the
federal habeas statute to read as follows:
(e)(1) No court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or
consider an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by or on
behalf of an alien detained by the United States who has been
determined by the United States to have been properly detained as
an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination.
28 U.S.C. § 2241(e)(1). And, in direct response to Hamdan, the MCA provides in section 7(b)
that the jurisdiction-stripping provision quot;shall take effect on the date of the enactment of this Act,
and shall apply to all cases, without exception, pending on or after the date of the enactment of
this Act . . . .quot; When Boumediene came before the Supreme Court in 2008, the central issue was
the constitutionality of § 2241, as amended by MCA § 7(a). As discussed at length in the section
that follows, the Boumediene Court struck down MCA § 7(a) as an unconstitutional suspension
of the writ of habeas corpus.
According to petitioners, Boumediene was a facial invalidation of MCA § 7, thereby
quot;fully restor[ing] this Court's jurisdictionquot; under § 2241. See al Bakri Opp'n to Resps.' Mot. to
Dismiss (quot;Bakri Opp'nquot;) at 11. The § 2241 inquiry, petitioners maintain, is governed by Rasul's
holding that federal district courts have statutory jurisdiction to hear habeas petitions filed by
aliens and citizens held by the United States at Guantanamo. Because the United States controls
Bagram to the same degree that it controls Guantanamo, the argument goes, Rasul applies with
equal force to the pending petitions here. Respondents counter that Boumediene was an quot;as
appliedquot; rejection of MCA § 7, not a facial one, so § 2241(e) remains in force as to detainees
held as quot;enemy combatantsquot; at Bagram. See Resps.' Reply in Support of Mot. to Dismiss al
Bakri's Habeas Pet. (quot;Resps.' Bakri Rep.quot;) 1-4. Under the plain language of § 2241(e)(1), as
modified by MCA § 7(a), federal district courts lack habeas jurisdiction over quot;an alien detained
by the United States who has . . . been properly detained as an enemy combatant.quot; Because §
2241(e)(1) on its face strips federal courts of jurisdiction to consider Bagram detainees' habeas
petitions, the outcome depends on whether Boumediene was an as applied or a facial rejection of
MCA § 7. Only if it was a facial rejection may the Court ignore the clear language of the statute.
Fairly read, Boumediene was an as applied rejection of MCA § 7. To be sure, the
Supreme Court framed the issue in general terms -- i.e., whether aliens held in quot;distant countriesquot;
could invoke the Suspension Clause. 128 S.Ct at 2248. And the Supreme Court did not
specifically mention Guantanamo each time it announced an aspect of its holding. But to
interpret Boumediene as a facial repudiation of MCA § 7 would not only require a selective
reading of the Supreme Court's opinion, it would also require this Court to ignore the history
preceding the Supreme Court's holding.
Boumediene was focused on the habeas rights of detainees held at Guantanamo. The
Supreme Court examined the history of the U.S. presence at Guantanamo, see 128 S. Ct. at 2251-
52, the degree of U.S. control at Guantanamo, see id. at 2260-61, and the practical obstacles of
extending habeas rights to Guantanamo, see id. at 2261. The Supreme Court did not examine
those very fact-specific factors with regard to any other place the United States presently operates
or confines detainees. When the Supreme Court did examine other historical sites of detention,
like Landsberg Prison in post-World War II Germany, it only did so to compare those historical
sites to Guantanamo. See id. Indeed, the Supreme Court specifically observed that it might
reach a different outcome if the site of detention was someplace other than Guantanamo. Id. at
2261-62. Hence, to infer that Boumediene rejected MCA § 7 worldwide would be to ignore the
Supreme Court's unmistakably Guantanamo-specific analysis.
The conclusion that Boumediene only assessed the constitutionality of MCA § 7 as
applied to Guantanamo is inescapable when the case is viewed in context. Beginning with Rasul
and Hamdi, and then continuing with Hamdan, the decision in Boumediene is the latest in a
series of landmark Supreme Court opinions addressing the habeas rights of detainees held at
Guantanamo. Neither Rasul, Hamdi, nor Hamdan considered other sites of detention. Under
petitioners' reading, Boumediene not only held -- for the first time -- that the Suspension Clause
extends to a foreign country where the United States does not exercise de jure sovereignty, but
took that ground-breaking step well beyond the cases that framed that important constitutional
question. The Supreme Court has time and again stated its preference for quot;partial, rather than
facial, invalidation.quot; Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood, 546 U.S. 320, 328-29 (2006) (quoting
Brockett v. Spokane Arcades, Inc., 472 U.S. 491, 504 (1985)). Hence, this Court will not adopt
the far-reaching interpretation of Boumediene that petitioners advance. Because the Court
interprets Boumediene as a rejection of MCA § 7 as it applies to Guantanamo specifically, rather
than a broader facial rejection, MCA § 7 (and, therefore, § 2241(e)(1)) continues to deprive this
Court of statutory jurisdiction over habeas petitions filed by Bagram detainees. Absent statutory
habeas corpus jurisdiction, petitioners must look to the constitutional right to habeas corpus as
protected by the Suspension Clause, and whether that provision extends to them. The question,
then, is whether the statute withdrawing habeas corpus jurisdiction is constitutional as applied to
these detainees held at Bagram.
II. The Reach of the Suspension Clause to Bagram
The specific constitutional question posed by these four cases is whether petitioners --
foreign nationals designated as enemy combatants, captured and held abroad at Bagram -- are
entitled to invoke the protections of the writ of habeas corpus in U.S. courts. This is essentially
the same quot;specific questionquot; the Supreme Court faced in Boumediene: quot;whether foreign
nationals, apprehended and detained in distant countries during a time of serious threats to our
Nation's security, may assert the privilege of the writ and seek its protections.quot; 128 S. Ct. at
2248. And that question involves at its core the issue of the reach of the Suspension Clause, just
as it did in Boumediene. The facts may vary from petitioner to petitioner, but the only material
difference between the petitioners in Boumediene and the petitioners here is where they are held
-- at the military base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba or at the Bagram Theater Internment Facility
at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.
The Boumediene Court conducted a far-reaching historical exegesis of the writ of habeas
corpus and the Suspension Clause. The Court began with the Framers' original intent, surveying
English habeas jurisprudence pre-dating the Constitution. Id. at 2244-47. The Court then turned
to quot;founding-era authoritiesquot; addressing the scope of the Suspension Clause, finding them too
muddled and too incomplete quot;to infer too much, one way or the other, from the lack of historical
evidence on point.quot; Id. at 2248-51. Finally, the Court weighed its own precedent assessing
extraterritorial application of the Constitution -- cases like the Insular Cases,4 Johnson v.
Eisentrager, 339 U.S. 763 (1950), and Reid v. Covert, 354 U.S. 1 (1957). See Boumediene, 128
S. Ct. at 2253-58. The Court concluded that some cases from this venerable array -- especially
Eisentrager -- helped inform its analysis. Id. But no case was so on point as to allow the Court
simply to apply established precedent. Instead, the Court constructed a new framework to
address the specific question it faced. Id. at 2259. Because that quot;specific questionquot; is no
different than the constitutional question in the cases now before this Court, and because
Boumediene fashioned a specific framework to address it, the analysis here must focus first and
foremost on Boumediene.
See De Lima v. Bidwell, 182 U.S. 1 (1901); Dooley v. United States, 182 U.S. 222
(1901); Armstrong v. United States, 182 U.S. 243 (1901); Downes v. Bidwell, 182 U.S. 244
(1901); Hawaii v. Mankichi, 190 U.S. 197 (1903); Dorr v. United States, 195 U.S. 138 (1904).
Boumediene concluded that quot;at least three factors are relevant in determining the reach of
the Suspension Clausequot;:
(1) the citizenship and status of the detainee and the adequacy of
the process through which that status determination was made; (2)
the nature of the sites where apprehension and then detention took
place; and (3) the practical obstacles inherent in resolving the
prisoner's entitlement to the writ.
128 S. Ct. at 2259. For the sake of analysis, these three factors can be subdivided further into
six: (1) the citizenship of the detainee; (2) the status of the detainee; (3) the adequacy of the
process through which the status determination was made; (4) the nature of the site of
apprehension; (5) the nature of the site of detention; and (6) the practical obstacles inherent in
resolving the petitioner's entitlement to the writ.
The parties dispute how these six factors should be applied. A threshold issue is whether
application of the Boumediene factors to determine whether the Suspension Clause applies
should be on a detainee-by-detainee basis or categorically as to all Bagram detainees. Petitioners
argue that the factors require an individualized, detainee-specific application. According to
petitioners, although some factors -- like the nature of the site of detention or the adequacy of
process -- can be applied categorically to all Bagram detainees, other factors -- like the detainee's
citizenship and site of apprehension -- necessarily vary from one detainee to the next. See
Transcript of Jan. 7, 2009 Hearing (quot;Tr.quot;) at 66. Respondents counter that all six factors can be
applied categorically. See id. at 7-8; see also Resps.' Reply in Support of Mot. to Dismiss al
Maqaleh's Habeas Pet. (quot;Resps.' Maqaleh Rep.quot;) at 16-17. For citizenship, they contend, the only
question is whether a detainee is a U.S. citizen. And the only question for the site of
apprehension factor is whether a detainee was captured within U.S. territory. Because no
Bagram detainee is a U.S. citizen and none was captured within U.S. territory, respondents
maintain that the Court need not examine those two factors any further.
Boumediene contemplated a more nuanced analysis than respondents propose. The
Supreme Court repeatedly eschewed bright-line rules, favoring instead an assessment of
quot;objective factors and practical concerns.quot; See 128 S. Ct. at 2258. Take, for instance,
Boumediene's careful comparison of Reid v. Covert and In re Ross, 140 U.S. 453 (1891). Id. at
2255-57. The Court observed that although both cases considered whether the Fifth and Sixth
Amendments applied extraterritorially to U.S. citizens detained by the U.S. government, the
cases came out differently.5 The Constitution reached the petitioners in Reid but not those in
Ross because extraterritorial application in Ross would have been impractical. Id. at 2256-57.
As the Court explained in Boumediene, quot;[i]f citizenship had been the only relevant factor in
[Ross], it would have been necessary for the [Reid] Court to overturn Ross.quot; Id. at 2257.
Boumediene's repeated rejection of bright-line rules, then, coupled with its choice of certain
detainee-specific factors, strongly supports petitioners' individualized approach.
Respondents warn that a detainee-by-detainee analysis might quot;lead to the anomalous
result that some alien detainees at Bagram Airfield would have habeas rights, while others do
not.quot; Resps.' Maqaleh Mot. at 25. Perhaps respondents are right that such a result would be
quot;anomalous.quot; But it is certainly no more anomalous than the result that might follow -- and
indeed that respondents urge -- under their categorical approach. Aside from where they are
held, Bagram detainees are no different than Guantanamo detainees. Yet not only do
The petitioner in Ross was a British subject serving on an American merchant vessel.
But as Boumediene noted, quot;[t]he petitioner's citizenship played no role in the disposition of the
case . . . [because] the Court assumed (consistent with the maritime custom of the time) that Ross
had all the rights of a similarly situated American citizen.quot; 128 S. Ct. at 2256.
Guantanamo detainees receive greater process than do Bagram detainees, but Guantanamo
detainees have the privilege of habeas corpus under Boumediene while Bagram detainees, under
respondents' approach, would not. It would be an even more quot;striking anomalyquot; to permit the
Executive quot;to switch the Constitution on or off at willquot; merely by deciding who will be held
where.6 See Boumediene, 128 S. Ct. at 2259. This Court is not persuaded, then, that
respondents' categorical approach, in which they now advocate different results solely on the
basis of whether they ship otherwise identically-situated detainees to Guantanamo or instead to
Bagram, is consistent with Boumediene.7 Hence, the Court will apply the six factors in an
individualized, detainee-specific manner.
A seventh factor tacitly informed Boumediene's analysis as well: the length of a
petitioner's detention without adequate review. See id. at 2275-76; see also id. at 2278 (Souter,
J., concurring). In holding that the Suspension Clause applies to detainees held at Guantanamo,
the Court was clearly motivated, at least in part, by the prospect of indefinite Executive detention
without judicial oversight. Allowing that quot;it likely would be both an impractical and
One could argue that by considering adequacy of process in determining whether the
Suspension Clause applies -- rather than only examining the process to determine whether it is an
adequate substitute for habeas -- the Boumediene factors do, in fact, allow the Executive to
quot;switch the Constitution on or off.quot; If the Executive provides detainees greater process, the
argument goes, then detainees may be beyond the reach of the Suspension Clause. Although this
tension could be viewed as an inconsistency in Boumediene's logic, it also signifies deference to
the Executive's conduct of the war in Afghanistan. It allows the Executive to forestall judicial
superintendence of the military's detention policies as long as he provides detainees with
sufficient process within a reasonable amount of time.
This Court's concern with the unrestrained power of respondents (i.e., the Executive
Branch) to determine the availability of habeas corpus simply by choosing to send a detainee to
Bagram rather than Guantanamo is precisely the concern that animated the Supreme Court's
separation-of-powers observations in Boumediene. See 128 S. Ct. at 2259 (quot;The test for
determining the scope of [the Suspension Clause] must not be subject to manipulation by those
whose power it is designed to restrain.quot;).
unprecedented extension of judicial power to assume that habeas corpus would be available at
the moment the prisoner is taken into custody,quot; the Court held that quot;the Executive is entitled to a
reasonable period of time to determine a detainee's status before a court entertains that detainee's
habeas corpus petition.quot; Id. at 2275-76. But the Court stressed that quot;[t]he cases before us . . . do
not involve detainees who have been held for a short period of time.quot; Id. at 2275. The
Boumediene petitioners -- like petitioners here -- had been held for six years or more. See id.
Hence, whatever quot;reasonable period of timequot; the Executive was entitled to had long since passed.
Because the Supreme Court did not include the length of detention in its explicit list of factors
that courts should consider in determining the reach of the Suspension Clause, this Court will not
separately consider that circumstance here. Instead, the length of detention must exceed that
quot;reasonable periodquot; to which the Executive is entitled and also may shade other factors, like the
practical obstacles inherent in resolving a petitioner's entitlement to the writ. But the Supreme
Court's observation in Boumediene is equally powerful here: quot;the costs of delay can no longer be
borne by those who are held in custody. The detainees in these cases are entitled to a prompt
habeas corpus hearing.quot; Id.
Finally, respondents suggest that to hold that the Suspension Clause reaches these
petitioners would be a usurpation of the Executive Branch's powers -- it would allow the
judiciary to quot;superintend the Executive's conduct in waging a war.quot; Resps.' Maqaleh Mot. at 3.
This Court is, of course, fully aware of the separation-of-powers concerns that underlie these
cases. And the Court is well-advised of the Supreme Court's oft-repeated admonition that the
political branches are entitled to a quot;healthy deference . . . in the area of military affairs.quot; Rostker
v. Goldberg, 453 U.S. 57, 66 (1981).8 But the writ of habeas corpus plays a unique role in our
constitutional system of checks and balances. quot;[T]he privilege of habeas corpus was one of the
few safeguards of liberty specified in a Constitution that, at the outset, had no Bill of Rights. In
the system conceived by the Framers the writ had a centrality that must inform proper
interpretation of the Suspension Clause.quot; Boumediene, 128 S. Ct. at 2244. The writ is a judicial
check on Executive detention. See INS v. St. Cyr, 533 U.S. 289, 301 (2001) (quot;At its historical
core, the writ of habeas corpus has served as a means of reviewing the legality of Executive
detention, and it is in that context that its protections have been strongest.quot;).9 Hence,
respondents' recurring theme -- that this Court would be overstepping its constitutional role by
entertaining habeas petitions filed by these detainees -- rings hollow. As Boumediene has
already made clear, reaching back to the admonition in Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch. 137, 177
(1803), that it is the Court that says quot;what the law is,quot; the Judiciary -- not the Executive – must
decide when and where the Suspension Clause applies:
[T]he writ of habeas corpus itself is an indispensable mechanism
for monitoring the separation of powers . . . . The test for
determining the scope of [the Suspension Clause] must not be
subject to manipulation by those whose power it is designed to
See also Munaf v. Geren, 128 S.Ct 2207, 2224-25 (2008) (quot;Our constitutional
framework 'requires that the judiciary be as scrupulous not to interfere with legitimate Army
matters as the Army must be scrupulous not to intervene in judicial matters.'quot;) (quoting Orloff v.
Willoughby, 345 U.S. 83, 94 (1953)).
See also Boumediene, 128 S. Ct. at 2246-47 (quot;The practice of arbitrary imprisonments
. . . 'is a less public, less striking, and therefore more dangerous engine of arbitrary government.'
And as a remedy for this fatal evil [Blackstone] is everywhere peculiarly emphatical in his
encomiums on the habeas corpus act . . . .quot;) (quoting The Federalist No. 84, at 512 (Alexander
Hamilton) (C. Rossiter ed., 1961) (quoting 1 W. Blackstone, Commentaries *136)) (emphasis in
Id. at 2259. With these principles in mind, the six Boumediene factors can be applied to the
A. Citizenship, Status, and Site of Apprehension
Petitioners are situated no differently than the detainees in Boumediene with regard to
three of the six factors: citizenship of the detainee; status of the detainee; and site of
apprehension. Like the petitioners in Boumediene, none of the petitioners here are U.S. citizens.
See 128 S. Ct. at 2259. Moreover, these petitioners, too, have been determined to be quot;enemy
combatantsquot; -- a determination that they dispute. See id. Finally, petitioners in both cases were
all apprehended quot;outside the sovereign territory of the United States.quot; See id. at 2260.
The Supreme Court spent little time on these three factors in Boumediene. After
identifying citizenship as a relevant criterion, the Court made no further reference to it during the
Suspension Clause analysis. As to the status factor, the Court noted that petitioners contested
their status as enemy combatants whereas the petitioners in Eisentrager did not deny that they
were quot;enemy alien[s].quot; Id. at 2259. But rather than exploring how an enemy combatant
determination figures into the Suspension Clause calculus, the Court focused on the process by
which the status determination was made. Id. at 2259-60. Finally, with regard to the site of
apprehension, the Boumediene Court simply noted that the petitioners, like those in Eisentrager,
were captured outside the United States. Id. at 2260. Although the Court recognized that quot;this is
a factor that weighs against finding [petitioners] have rights under the Suspension Clause,quot; it
immediately moved on to a different factor -- the site of detention. Id. It is evident from the
rather cursory analysis of these three factors that the remaining three factors -- site of detention,
adequacy of process, and practical obstacles -- were the primary drivers of the Supreme Court's
decision in Boumediene.
This Court, then, has little guidance as to what the citizenship factor means after
Boumediene. United States citizenship plainly is not a litmus test -- otherwise Boumediene
would not have come out the way it did. To be sure, a habeas petitioner's U.S. citizenship weighs
strongly in favor of a finding that habeas corpus rights apply abroad. See Munaf v. Geren, 128 S.
Ct. 2207, 2216 & n.2 (2008); Eisentrager, 339 U.S. at 769-70. But as Boumediene's comparison
of Reid and Ross demonstrates, U.S. citizenship does not, by itself, guarantee extraterritorial
application. 128 S. Ct. at 2256-57. Petitioners argue that Boumediene can be read to support an
approach that would differentiate between U.S. citizens, citizens of friendly nations, and citizens
of enemy nations. Tr. at 70-72. Citizens of friendly nations, petitioners suggest, should be
treated like U.S. citizens; only if a detainee is a citizen of a nation with which the United States is
at war should this factor weigh against them. This approach, however, is unworkable. The
terrorist quot;enemyquot; the United States is currently combating is not a quot;nation.quot; See Authorization
for Use of Military Force § 2(a), Pub. L. No. 107-40, 115 Stat. 224 (2001) (authorizing President
quot;to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he
determined planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on
September 11, 2001quot;) (emphasis added). Yet capturing and holding enemy fighters is a
quot;fundamental incidentquot; of conducting the ongoing armed conflict. Hamdi, 542 U.S. at 518-19.
Petitioners concede that under their approach, the U.S. government would be required to treat all
such detainees as if they were U.S. citizens because none of them are citizens of an enemy
nation. Tr. at 71-72. That result would be unprecedented. After Boumediene, the most this
Court can say with any certainty is that U.S. citizenship helps petitioners whereas foreign
citizenship does not.10 Because, as in Boumediene, none of petitioners here are U.S. citizens, this
factor weighs against a finding that they may invoke the protections of the Suspension Clause --
just as it did in Boumediene.
Boumediene also provides little guidance on how to analyze the quot;status of the detaineequot;
factor. Here, petitioners (as in Boumediene) contest their classification as quot;enemy combatants.quot;
Indeed, the parties even dispute what it means to be an enemy combatant. In Boumediene, the
Supreme Court was able to resolve the Suspension Clause issue without ruling on the appropriate
definition of enemy combatant, and that issue has not been fully briefed here, either. Hence, this
Court will not, at this time, resolve the issue. But accepting respondents' definition for the sake
of argument, it becomes clear that the most fertile ground for inquiry is not the detainee's status
itself, but rather the process used to make that determination. Until recently,11 respondents used
a quot;substantially similarquot; definition of enemy combatant for detainees no matter where they are
held. Tr. at 45. Respondents previously described their definition of quot;enemy combatantquot; in the
Guantanamo habeas cases as follows:
A detainee's citizenship can also create friction with a host government. The Court
discusses this aspect of citizenship under the quot;practical obstaclesquot; factor.
On March 13, 2009, respondents filed a memorandum refining their definition of
quot;enemy combatantquot; for Guantanamo detainees, and abandoning that term. See, e.g., Hamlily v.
Obama, Civ.A.No. 05-763 (dkt ent. #175). Respondents were careful to note that their new
quot;position is limited to the authority upon which the Government is relying to detain the persons
now being held at Guantanamo Bay. It is not, at this point, meant to define the contours of
authority for military operations generally, or detention in other contexts.quot; Id. at 2. Indeed, on
February 20, 2009, respondents declined an opportunity to refine their position in these cases
involving Bagram detainees. See, e.g., Al Maqaleh v. Gates, Civ.A.No. 06-1669 (dkt ent. #30).
Hence, for detainees at Bagram, respondents apparently adhere to the definition of quot;enemy
combatantquot; that they previously proposed in the habeas cases involving Guantanamo detainees.
At a minimum, the President's power to detain includes the ability
to detain as enemy combatants those individuals who were part of,
or supporting, forces engaged in hostilities against the United
States or its coalition partners and allies. This includes individuals
who were part of or directly supporting Taliban, al-Qaida, or
associated forces, that are engaged in hostilities against the United
States, its coalition partners or allies. This also includes any
persons who have committed a belligerent act or supported
hostilities in aid of enemy forces.
See, e.g., Hamlily v. Obama, Civ.A.No. 05-763, Mem. in Support of Gov't Definition of Enemy
Combatant at 2 (dkt ent. #126).
This is a broad definition, under which mere quot;supportquot; of forces engaged in hostilities can
justify an quot;enemy combatantquot; designation. Respondents maintain that a broad definition is
necessary to provide the Executive with the kind of operational flexibility needed in the ongoing
armed conflict. Whatever the merits of such a broad definition, however, a necessary corollary is
a robust process to ensure that only detainees who pose the kind of threat that warrants detention
are designated as enemy combatants. Hence, while this Court, like the Supreme Court in
Boumediene, finds little in the quot;status of the detaineequot; factor to counsel in favor of or against
extension of the Suspension Clause to Bagram detainees, the breadth of the definition of quot;enemy
combatantquot; utilized by respondents underscores the need for a meaningful process to ensure that
detainees are not improperly classified as enemy combatants.
The third factor is the site of apprehension. Although Boumediene did not analyze this
factor in depth, the case law provides some insight. Apprehension within U.S. territory suggests
that one may invoke the protections of the Constitution, see Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356,
369 (1886), but it does not guarantee it, see Ex parte Quirin, 317 U.S. 1, 15 (1942). And
apprehension outside U.S. territory cuts against a detainee claiming a right to habeas review, see
Eisentrager, 339 U.S. at 768, but it does not preclude that claim entirely, see Boumediene, 128 S.
Ct. at 2261. Here, as in Boumediene, all petitioners were captured outside the United States, and
hence the site of apprehension quot;is a factor that weighs against a finding that they have rights
under the Suspension Clause.quot; See id.
At first glance, it may seem that the site of apprehension factor, like the citizenship and
status factors, should play little role in the ultimate disposition of these cases because the Court is
simply applying the teaching of Boumediene to similarly situated petitioners. But in fact the site
of apprehension plays a more important, albeit more subtle, role than the citizenship and status
factors. Guantanamo detainees have all been rendered there -- that is, they were apprehended in
one country and eventually brought to the Guantanamo Bay U.S. military facility in Cuba, with
which they had no previous connection. The four petitioners in these cases, too, have all been
rendered to the U.S. military facility at Bagram in Afghanistan. All four claim to have been
captured outside of Afghanistan and brought there to be detained by the United States. Three of
the four petitioners had no prior connection with Afghanistan at all.
[DISCUSSION OF CLASSIFIED FACTUAL MATERIAL]
Bagram detainees captured in Afghanistan are qualitatively different than Bagram
detainees who, like petitioners, were captured elsewhere.12 The Boumediene Court was
motivated in no small part by the concern that the Executive could, under its argument, shuttle
detainees to Guantanamo quot;to govern without legal constraint.quot; 128 S. Ct. at 2259. In
pronouncing that quot;[o]ur basic charter cannot be contracted away like this,quot; the Supreme Court
concluded that the Executive does not have quot;the power to decide when and where [the
Constitution's] terms apply.quot; Id. It is one thing to detain those captured on the surrounding
battlefield at a place like Bagram, which respondents correctly maintain is in a theater of war. It
is quite another thing to apprehend people in foreign countries -- far from any Afghan battlefield
-- and then bring them to a theater of war, where the Constitution arguably may not reach. Such
rendition resurrects the same specter of limitless Executive power the Supreme Court sought to
guard against in Boumediene -- the concern that the Executive could move detainees physically
beyond the reach of the Constitution and detain them indefinitely.13 There is, then, a meaningful
distinction between Bagram detainees captured outside Afghanistan -- like the petitioners here --
and Bagram detainees who were captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan. The site of
apprehension factor, therefore, is of more importance here than it was for the Guantanamo
detainees in Boumediene, and for these petitioners cuts in their favor because, for purposes of
respondents' current motion, all were apprehended outside of Afghanistan.
There is no comparable situation for Guantanamo detainees who, of course, could not
have been captured in Cuba.
See also Hamdi, 542 U.S. at 535-36 (quot;We have long since made clear that a state of
war is not a blank check for the President when it comes to the rights of the Nation's citizens.
Whatever power the United States Constitution envisions for the Executive in its exchanges with
other nations or with enemy organizations in times of conflict, it most assuredly envisions a role
for all three branches when individual liberties are at stake.quot;) (internal citations omitted).
In sum, for these three factors, petitioners are not much different than the petitioners in
Boumediene. None are U.S. citizens or were apprehended in U.S. territory, so these factors cut
against them. While the status of the detainee factor neither helps nor hurts petitioners, the
quot;enemy combatantquot; determination is so broad -- it could easily ensnare someone who cannot
justifiably be detained as an incident of war -- as to underscore the need for a robust process for
making that determination. These petitioners have a stronger claim to habeas rights through
application of the Suspension Clause than would Bagram detainees captured in Afghanistan, but
that does not materially distinguish them from the detainees at Guantanamo. The primary
comparison of these cases and Boumediene, then, rests on an analysis of the remaining three
factors: the site of detention; the process used to make the status determination; and the practical
obstacles of litigating a petitioner's entitlement to the writ.
B. Site of Detention
The touchstone of the site of detention factor is the quot;objective degree of controlquot; the
United States has over Bagram. See Boumediene, 128 S. Ct. at 2252. In assessing the objective
degree of control, one question is whether Bagram is more like Guantanamo Bay, the site at issue
in Boumediene, or like Landsberg Prison in post-World War II Germany, the site at issue in
Eisentrager. The Supreme Court held in Eisentrager that the Suspension Clause did not reach
detainees at Landsberg. 339 U.S. at 785. In Boumediene, however, the Court held that the
Suspension Clause has quot;full effectquot; at Guantanamo Bay. 128 S. Ct. at 2262. Yet the
Boumediene Court did not see fit to overrule Eisentrager, noting several quot;critical differencesquot;
between Guantanamo and Landsberg. Id. at 2260. The United States has quot;complete control and
jurisdictionquot; over Guantanamo, see Rasul, 542 U.S. at 471,14 but did not have such control at
Landsberg, which quot;was under the jurisdiction of the combined Allied Forces.quot; Boumediene, 128
S. Ct. at 2260. Moreover, U.S. control over Guantanamo is quot;indefinite,quot; whereas the Allied
Forces quot;had not planned a long-term occupation of Germany.quot; Id. This Court, then, must
examine both the degree and duration of U.S. quot;controlquot; at Bagram to determine where Bagram
falls on the Guantanamo-Landsberg spectrum.
The U.S. presence in Afghanistan is governed by both a lease and a Status of Forces
Agreement (quot;SOFAquot;). Read together, the United States appears to have near-total operational
control at Bagram. For instance, paragraph 9 of the lease grants the United States exclusive use
of the premises at Bagram. See Accommodation Consignment Agreement for Lands and
Facilities at Bagram Airfield ¶ 9 (quot;Bagram Leasequot;) (attached as Exhibit A to Tennison Decl.,
supra). The SOFA allows U.S. personnel to enter and leave Afghanistan without a passport and
exempts U.S. vehicles, imports, and exports from taxation, regulation, or inspection. See
Diplomatic Note No. 202 ¶¶ 2, 5-6 (attached as Exhibit 2 to Resps.' Maqaleh Mot.). Indeed,
The Supreme Court has summarized the key terms of the U.S. lease at Guantanamo as
The United States occupies the base [at Guantanamo], which comprises 45 square
miles of land and water along the southeast coast of Cuba, pursuant to a 1903
Lease Agreement executed with the newly independent Republic of Cuba in the
aftermath of the Spanish-American War. Under the agreement, quot;the United States
recognizes the continuance of the ultimate sovereignty of the Republic of Cuba
over the leased areas,quot; while quot;the Republic of Cuba consents that during the
period of the occupation by the United States the United States shall exercise
complete jurisdiction and control over and within said areas.quot; In 1934, the parties
entered into a treaty providing that, absent an agreement to modify or abrogate the
lease, the lease would remain in effect quot;so long as the United States of America
shall not abandon the naval station of Guantanamo.quot;
Rasul, 542 U.S. at 471 (internal ellipses and brackets omitted).
unlike the U.S. lease at Guantanamo, the Bagram lease provides the United States with
assignment and reversion authority. See Bagram Lease ¶ 4. Such operational control over
Bagram is unsurprising because, as respondents note, quot;that's going to be basically true of any
military facility that the United States runs anywhere in the world.quot; Tr. at 39.
Yet there are several differences between the degree of U.S. control at Bagram and at
Guantanamo. A SOFA governs the terms of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, and the very
existence of a SOFA is a quot;manifestation of the full sovereignty of the state on whose territory it
applies.quot; Resps.' Maqaleh Rep. at 13-15 (quoting U.N. Mandates and Forces Agreements,
Comm. Testimony, Statement of Ruth Wedgwood, Feb. 28, 2008, House Foreign Affairs
Comm., Subcomm. on Int'l Orgs., Human Rights, and Oversight); see also Resps.' Maqaleh Mot.
at 6 n.5. The United States operates in Guantanamo without a SOFA. Nor does the mere
existence of a lease serve to transfer sovereignty over leased land to the United States. See, e.g.,
United States v. Spelar, 338 U.S. 217, 221-22 (1949). Moreover, there is a considerable non-
U.S. presence at Bagram -- in addition to the U.S. allies who operate out of the base, a sizable
population of Afghan workers and contractors is there. Tennison Decl. ¶¶ 7-8; see also Tr. at 37.
In contrast, aside from a quot;handfulquot; of Cuban workers who were quot;grandfatheredquot; in, access to
Guantanamo is confined to U.S. personnel. See Tr. at 128.15 This almost-exclusive U.S.
presence at Guantanamo contributed to the Supreme Court's conclusion that quot;[i]n every practical
sense Guantanamo is not abroad.quot; Boumediene, 128 S. Ct. at 2261.
Petitioners also represent that Filipino, Jamaican, and Ecuadorian contractors are
permitted onto the military base at Guantanamo. Tr. at 101. Petitioners have not entered
anything into the record to substantiate that representation.
Another potential difference between Bagram and Guantanamo concerns U.S.
quot;jurisdiction.quot; The Guantanamo lease provides the United States with quot;complete jurisdiction and
controlquot; over the military base. Lease of Lands for Coaling and Naval Stations, Feb. 23, 1903,
U.S.-Cuba, Art. III, T.S. No. 418 (quot;Guantanamo Leasequot;) (attached as Exhibit 23 to Maqaleh
Opp'n). Of course, the term quot;jurisdictionquot; is nebulous and can mean many things. See United
States v. Rodgers, 466 U.S. 475, 479-80 (1984) (examining numerous potential definitions of
quot;jurisdictionquot;); see also Black's Law Dictionary 867-71 (8th ed. 2004) (setting forth over fifty
meanings of quot;jurisdiction,quot; ranging from quot;[a] government's general power to exercise authority
over all persons and things within its territoryquot; to quot;[a] court's power to decide a case or issue a
decreequot;). Petitioners take it to mean an amalgam of quot;civil jurisdictionquot; and quot;criminal
jurisdiction.quot; See Maqaleh Opp'n at 48-49. Even accepting for the sake of argument petitioners'
interpretation, it is clear that U.S. jurisdiction at Bagram is not quite as plenary as at
Guantanamo. Although the Bagram lease is silent with regard to jurisdiction, the SOFA
addresses it. Under the SOFA, the United States has criminal jurisdiction over U.S. personnel.
SOFA ¶ 7. Criminal jurisdiction over Afghan workers or over allied personnel is beyond U.S.
authority. The SOFA further provides that the United States and Afghanistan waive civil claims
against one another, but it does not provide the United States with jurisdiction over civil claims
brought by individuals. Id. ¶ 9. To be sure, these provisions grant the United States some
limited jurisdiction at Bagram -- but there are no limits on U.S. jurisdiction at Guantanamo.
There is, then, lesser U.S. quot;jurisdictionquot; at Bagram than at Guantanamo.
But the differences in control and jurisdiction set forth above do not significantly reduce
the quot;objective degree of controlquot; the United States has at Bagram. The existence of a SOFA and
the presence of non-U.S. personnel does not affect the actual control the United States exercises
at the Bagram detention facility, which is practically absolute. See Resps.' Maqaleh Mot. at 22
(quot;[T]he United States would not detain enemy combatants on any long-term basis at a facility
that it did not control.quot;). Nor do the differences in jurisdiction drastically undercut the objective
degree of control at Bagram. quot;Jurisdiction,quot; like quot;sovereignty,quot; is merely a label, and
Boumediene rejected the argument that a label like quot;sovereigntyquot; is determinative in assessing
the reach of the Suspension Clause. See 128 S. Ct. at 2253.16 Perhaps the difference in
jurisdiction precludes the United States from operating at Bagram, as it does at Guantanamo,
entirely free from the scrutiny of the host country. As a practical matter, however, when
assessing day-to-day activities at Bagram, the lack of complete quot;jurisdictionquot; does not
appreciably undermine the conclusion that the United States exercises a very high quot;objective
degree of control.quot;
This conclusion is reinforced when comparing the control the United States exercises at
Bagram to U.S. control at Landsberg Prison. The Court cannot, on the record before it, offer an
item-by-item comparison of Bagram and Landsberg. But it is apparent that the combined Allied
Forces operating in post-World War II Germany provided a more meaningful check on one
another than U.S. allies in the current conflict have on U.S. control at Bagram. For example, the
Declaration made at the close of World War II does not provide the United States with any
special role among the four quot;Allied Representativesquot; -- the United States, the Soviet Union, the
Just as Cuba quot;effectively has no rights as a sovereignquot; under the Guantanamo lease, see
id. at 2252, under the lease and SOFA at Bagram, Afghanistan retains few if any rights as a
sovereign relating to the detention facility and the detainees held there. In Eisentrager, the Court
used quot;sovereigntyquot; in the sense of the control asserted by the U.S. military over the detention
facility, see id. at 2257, which is effectively as complete at Bagram as at Guantanamo and more
complete at Bagram than at Landsberg.
United Kingdom, and France. See Declaration Regarding the Defeat of Germany and the
Assumption of Supreme Authority with Respect to Germany, June 5, 1945, 60 Stat. 1649,
T.I.A.S. No. 1520. Similarly, the Agreements on Germany four years later established that the
United States and its allies would work together in exercising their retained powers over the three
western zones of Germany. See Agreements Respecting Basic Principles for Merger of the Three
Western German Zones of Occupation, and Other Matters, Apr. 8, 1949, 63 Stat. 3819, T.I.A.S.
No. 2066. To be sure, the United States is supported by allies in Afghanistan. But the
relationship is not the same as that of the Allied Forces after World War II. Compare Agreement
on Control Machinery in Germany, arts. 1-3, Nov. 14, 1944, 5 U.S.T. 2062, T.I.A.S. No. 3070
(describing quot;jointquot; control of allies and requiring action by unanimous decision), with Bagram
Lease ¶ 9 (providing United States with quot;exclusivequot; control at Bagram). And it is the United
States, not U.S. allies, that detains people at the Bagram Theater Internment Facility and that
operates (and hence fully controls) that prison facility and its occupants, which was not the case
at Landsberg. See Hirota v. MacArthur, 338 U.S. 197, 198 (1948) (per curiam) (noting that the
post-World War II military tribunals in Germany were created by General MacArthur as quot;the
agent of the Allied Powersquot; and were therefore not quot;tribunal[s] of the United Statesquot;). Thus,
although U.S. control over Bagram is not quite as absolute as over Guantanamo, the United
States exercises a significantly greater quot;objective degree of controlquot; over Bagram than it did over
Landsberg in post-World War II Germany.
Comparing the objective degree of control the United States has exercised at sites of
detention separated by time and space is necessarily an exercise in rough approximation. United
States control and jurisdiction at Bagram is slightly less complete than at Guantanamo. But on
the record before the Court, the United States does not share control at Bagram the way the
Allied Forces shared control at Landsberg. On the Guantanamo-Landsberg spectrum, then, the
objective degree of control the United States has at Bagram resembles U.S. control at
Guantanamo more closely than U.S. control at Landsberg.
In assessing the site of detention, Boumediene also referenced the duration of the U.S.
presence there. 128 S. Ct. at 2261. The United States has occupied Guantanamo for over 100
years. Id. at 2258. For much of that time, the occupation has been in the face of a hostile host
country -- the United States is at Guantanamo despite its relationship with Cuba, not because of
it. The U.S. presence at Landsberg Prison stands in stark contrast. At the time of Eisentrager,
the U.S. presence in Germany was of a recent vintage. The Allied Forces declared the defeat of
Germany in June 1945 -- thereby initiating the U.S. occupation -- and Eisentrager was decided in
June 1950. Similarly, the United States has been at Bagram for less than a decade. The United
States began operations in Afghanistan in 2001 and executed diplomatic arrangements in 2002.
That is a far cry temporally from the century-long U.S. presence at Guantanamo.
But the Court must consider the future intentions of the United States at Bagram as well.
Since the Insular Cases more than a century ago, the Supreme Court has looked to future
intentions in deciding whether the Constitution reaches distant lands. See Boumediene, 128 S.
Ct. at 2254 (citing Dorr v. United States, 195 U.S. 138 (1904), and Downes v. Bidwell, 182 U.S.
244 (1901)) (explaining doctrine of quot;territorial incorporationquot;). In Boumediene, the Supreme
Court distinguished between Guantanamo, where the United States has evidenced an intent to
stay indefinitely, and Landsberg, where the Allies did not plan a long-term occupation. Id. at
2261. At Bagram, the United States has declared that it only intends to stay until the current
military operations are concluded and Afghan sovereignty is fully restored. See Joint Declaration
of the United States-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership (attached as Exhibit A to Resps.' Maqaleh
Rep.); see also Tennison Decl. ¶ 2. That promise may be no more than a distant hope given the
indefinite nature of our global efforts against terrorism and recent developments in Afghanistan,
but it remains the declared intent of the United States. In that respect, U.S. intentions at Bagram
differ from those at Guantanamo.
Petitioners take issue with the stated intentions of the United States. They argue that the
lease provides the United States with exclusive control over when it expires. Petitioners also
maintain that extensive construction and expansion at Bagram evidences an intent to remain
indefinitely. See Maqaleh Opp'n at 8. Taking the latter argument first, the construction of sturdy
structures and familiar amenities does not weigh into the constitutional analysis. This Court is in
no position to tell the military what materials to use in its buildings and what amenities are likely
to maintain morale for U.S. personnel. During other recent periods of quot;wartimequot; presence in
foreign lands, particularly Vietnam, similar extensive facility construction efforts occurred. As
to the lease, petitioners rightly point out that the United States absolutely controls the duration of
the U.S. presence at Bagram. See Bagram Lease ¶ 4 (quot;[T]his Agreement . . . shall continue until
the United States or its successors determine that the Premises are no longer required for its
use.quot;).17 The same is true at Guantanamo. See Guantanamo Lease, Art. III (providing that the
lease quot;shall continue in effect . . . [s]o long as the United States of America shall not abandon the
Although the preamble of the Bagram Lease provides that it is entered quot;in consideration
of the mutual benefits to be derived therefrom,quot; the normal rules of contractual interpretation
give express terms of a contract precedence over text from a preamble. See, e.g., Crowell v.
Gould, 96 F.2d 569, 573 (D.C. Cir. 1938).
said naval station of Guantanamo . . . .quot;). But according to respondents, long-term leases for
military bases are not uncommon.18 See Tr. at 38 (quot;[I]f you look at some leases from the World
War II era, yes, they made note that there are specific durations, like 99 years, which is
practically forever.quot;). Petitioners' contention that U.S. intentions at Bagram are not what
respondents say they are might carry more weight if hostilities had ended and the United States
still remained at Bagram. That is not the case now. Hostilities are ongoing and petitioners have
not set forth persuasive evidence suggesting that the United States does not intend to quit Bagram
once those hostilities have abated, even though the end of hostilities in Afghanistan remains well
in the future.
In sum, several elements enter into the site of detention analysis. In assessing the
quot;objective degree of control,quot; Bagram lies much closer to Guantanamo than to Landsberg. As to
the duration of the U.S. presence, on the other hand, Bagram appears to be closer to Landsberg
than Guantanamo -- the United States has been at Bagram for less than a decade and has
disavowed any intention of a permanent presence there. Therefore, although Bagram does not
align squarely with either Landsberg or Guantanamo, this Court cannot conclude that Bagram,
like Guantanamo, is quot;not abroad.quot; See Boumediene, 128 S. Ct. at 2261. Whereas the site of
detention factor in Boumediene plainly supported application of the Suspension Clause (and
hence habeas rights) to the Guantanamo detainees, it does not favor petitioners to quite the same
extent here. Nonetheless, it is still fair to say that the United States has a high objective degree of
control at Bagram.
The parties have not entered the Landsberg lease into the record.
C. Adequacy of Process
The adequacy of process factor requires an assessment of the process used to make status
determinations at Guantanamo and the process provided to petitioners in Eisentrager. Once those
two points of comparison are established, the Court can compare the process used to make status
determinations at Bagram. Before commencing with that analysis, however, the Court must
resolve a threshold issue. Respondents argue that adequacy of process does not factor into the
analysis of whether the Suspension Clause applies. See Resps.' Maqaleh Rep. 19-20. Rather,
they maintain, adequacy of process is only relevant to the second part of the Suspension Clause
analysis: whether Congress has provided an adequate substitute for habeas. Although
respondents are correct that adequacy of process lies at the center of the quot;adequate substitutequot;
prong, they are incorrect that adequacy of process is irrelevant to the first part of the inquiry. In
Boumediene, the Supreme Court clearly enumerated quot;adequacy of the processquot; as one of the
factors that determine whether the Suspension Clause applies. 128 S. Ct. at 2259. Indeed, unlike
the cursory analysis of the first three factors discussed earlier, the Supreme Court devoted several
paragraphs of analysis to this factor, comparing the process used in Eisentrager to that at
Guantanamo. Id. at 2259-60. Hence, this Court concludes that under Boumediene, it must
consider adequacy of process in determining the reach of the Suspension Clause.
In Boumediene, the Supreme Court described the following process used to determine
petitioners' status as quot;enemy aliensquot; in Eisentrager:
The records from the Eisentrager trials suggest that, well before the
petitioners brought their case to this Court, there had been a
rigorous adversarial process to test the legality of their detention.
The Eisentrager petitioners were charged by a bill of particulars
that made detailed factual allegations against them. See 14 United
Nations War Crimes Commission, Law Reports of Trials of War
Criminals 8-10 (1949) (reprint 1997). To rebut the accusations,
they were entitled to representation by counsel, allowed to
introduce evidence on their own behalf, and permitted to cross-
examine the prosecution's witnesses. See Memorandum by
Command of Lt. Gen. Wedemeyer, Jan. 21, 1946 (establishing
quot;Regulations Governing the Trial of War Criminalsquot; in the China
Theater), in Tr. of Record in Johnson v. Eisentrager, O.T.1949, No.
306, pp. 34-40.
128 S. Ct. at 2259-60. The Supreme Court went on to note that the Combatant Status Review
Tribunal (quot;CSRTquot;) hearings at Guantanamo quot;are far more limited, and . . . fall well short of the
procedures and adversarial mechanisms that would eliminate the need for habeas corpus review.quot;
Id. at 2260. The Supreme Court described the following deficiencies in the CSRT process:
Although the detainee is assigned a quot;Personal Representativequot; to
assist him during CSRT proceedings, . . . that person is not the
detainee's lawyer or even his quot;advocate.quot; The Government's
evidence is accorded a presumption of validity. The detainee is
allowed to present quot;reasonably availablequot; evidence, but his ability
to rebut the Government's evidence against him is limited by the
circumstances of his confinement and his lack of counsel at this
stage. And although the detainee can seek review of his status
determination in the Court of Appeals, that review process cannot
cure all defects in the earlier proceedings.
Id. (internal citations omitted).
The process used to determine a detainee's status at Bagram is described in the Tennison
Declaration. The initial quot;enemy combatantquot; determination is made quot;in the field.quot; Tennison Decl.
¶¶ 11-12. For detainees at Bagram, the initial determination is reviewed within 75 days, and then
every six months thereafter.19 Id. ¶ 13. The reviewing body is the Unlawful Enemy Combatant
Review Board (quot;UECRBquot;), a panel of three commissioned officers. The UECRB reviews quot;all
The process is slightly different for individuals captured in Afghanistan but not
detained at Bagram. See Tennison Decl. ¶ 12.
relevant information reasonably available,quot; and detainees have the opportunity to make a written
statement.20 Id. ¶¶ 12-13. The UECRB then makes a recommendation by majority vote to the
Commanding General as to the detainee's status. Id. ¶ 13. There is no recourse to a neutral
Respondents concede, as they must, that the process used for status determinations at
Bagram is less comprehensive than the CSRT process used for the Guantanamo detainees. Tr. at
53. Focusing the inquiry on the flaws Boumediene identified in the CSRT process, the UECRB
process is plainly less sophisticated and more error-prone. Unlike a CSRT, where a petitioner
has access to a quot;personal representative,quot; Bagram detainees represent themselves. Obvious
obstacles, including language and cultural differences, obstruct effective self-representation by
petitioners such as these. Detainees cannot even speak for themselves; they are only permitted to
submit a written statement. But in submitting that statement, detainees do not know what
evidence the United States relies upon to justify an quot;enemy combatantquot; designation -- so they
lack a meaningful opportunity to rebut that evidence. Respondents' far-reaching and ever-
changing definition of enemy combatant, coupled with the uncertain evidentiary standards,
further undercut the reliability of the UECRB review. And, unlike the CSRT process, Bagram
detainees receive no review beyond the UECRB itself.
This Court need not determine how extensive process must be to stave off the reach of the
Suspension Clause to Bagram. It suffices to recognize that the UECRB process at Bagram falls
well short of what the Supreme Court found inadequate at Guantanamo. See Boumediene, 128
Since April 2008, detainees being screened for the first time may appear before
UECRB in person. See Tennison Decl. ¶ 13. Because all petitioners in these cases began their
detention long before April 2008, this provision is inapplicable to them.
S. Ct. at 2260. Hence, while the important adequacy of process factor strongly supported
extension of the Suspension Clause and habeas rights in Boumediene, it even more strongly
favors petitioners here.
D. Practical Obstacles
Finally, the Court must consider the practical obstacles involved in extending the
Suspension Clause to Bagram. The Supreme Court devoted significant attention to this factor in
Boumediene, focusing on the impact that habeas review would have on the military mission and
on whether litigating habeas cases would cause friction with the host government. 128 S. Ct. at
2261-62. In concluding that habeas review would not raise substantial practical obstacles in the
way of the military mission, the Court noted that the arguments might quot;have more weightquot; if
Guantanamo quot;were located in an active theater of war.quot; Id. at 2262.
Habeas review could conceivably impact the military mission in several ways. The
security of the detention facility is relevant. Habeas review is not impractical when detainees are
held at secure military facilities, like the U.S. facility at Guantanamo. Boumediene, 128 S. Ct. at
2261. Still, the practical difficulties of providing habeas review are enhanced in an active war
zone. For example, as noted in Eisentrager, the Allied Forces administering Landsberg Prison
were threatened by quot;enemy elements, guerilla fighters, and 'were-wolves.'quot; Boumediene, 128 S.
Ct. at 2261 (quoting Eisentrager, 339 U.S. at 784). In this regard, Bagram resembles Landsberg
more than Guantanamo, since it, like Landsberg, is under constant threat by suicide bombers and
other violent elements. See, e.g., Bomber Strikes Outside Main U.S. Base in Afghanistan, Voice
Am. Press Releases & Documents, 2009 WLNR 4173359 (Mar. 4, 2009); see also Tr. at 20.
United States control over the detention facility is also relevant. As discussed in greater
detail earlier, the United States exercises near-total control over Bagram even if it does not have
complete quot;jurisdictionquot; there. Indeed, the military exercises such control at any military base it
establishes, Tr. at 39, which has allowed the United States to convene wartime tribunals during
previous conflicts. Those tribunals have provided detainees with far greater process than the
UECRB process at Bagram. For example, counsel for petitioners represented that during the first
Persian Gulf War, 1,200 detainees had their status determined by quot;competent tribunalsquot; within
the meaning of the Geneva Conventions. Tr. at 81. But the Court need not rely on that
representation alone because, even in Eisentrager, the petitioners received a quot;rigorous adversarial
process to test the legality of their detentionquot; before a military tribunal in Nanking, China
Theater, shortly after the Japanese surrender in World War II. See Boumediene, 128 S. Ct. at
2259; see also Eisentrager, 339 U.S. at 766 (describing military tribunal constituted before
petitioners were transferred to Landsberg). If such a quot;rigorous adversarial processquot; was provided
at a hastily-constituted military tribunal in post-war China, then it strains credulity to believe that
it is impractical to provide meaningful process to detainees held at a large, secure military base,
like Bagram, under complete U.S. control.
Respondents argue that there are significant practical difficulties in gathering evidence
and providing detainees with access to counsel. They are correct that Eisentrager was in no small
part concerned with the difficulties of producing the petitioner himself for a habeas hearing. See
id. at 778-79. But those concerns are significantly mitigated today by technological advances.
Real-time video-conferencing provides a workable substitute for an in-court appearance. Indeed,
that is the process being used in scores of Guantanamo habeas proceedings now taking place in
this District Court, in which no Guantanamo detainee has been physically transferred here.
Although logistical issues have certainly been presented, the hearings and related proceedings are
going forward with the burdens on the government falling mainly on the lawyers and
administrative personnel involved, not on those who would otherwise be on the battlefield.
Moreover, to the extent that respondents are alarmed by the prospect of pulling potential
witnesses from the battlefield, it is again worth noting that all four petitioners in these cases
claim to have been captured outside Afghanistan, far removed from any battlefield -- and were
apprehended six or more years ago. It is unlikely, and pure speculation, that relevant witnesses
are now located in Afghanistan given these circumstances and that three of these petitioners lack
any nexus to that country aside from the fact of their detention there. And even if access by
counsel should prove necessary -- something the Court does not, at this stage, decide -- counsel
for petitioners have represented that access is not so difficult as to be dispositive. Tr. at 83-84.
Hence, while these cases may pose more practical difficulties than the normal habeas case, just as
the Guantanamo habeas cases also do, the Court is not persuaded that those difficulties rise to a
level that precludes application of the Suspension Clause or bars petitioners from access to
The number of detainees who might be entitled to habeas review also factors into the
analysis of practical obstacles. Petitioners all claim to have been captured outside Afghanistan.
[DISCUSSION OF CLASSIFIED FACTUAL MATERIAL]
[DISCUSSION OF CLASSIFIED FACTUAL MATERIAL]
The right to invoke the privilege of habeas corpus does not accrue from the day a
petitioner is captured. Boumediene held that the Executive must have a quot;reasonable amount of
timequot; before the Suspension Clause applies. 128 S. Ct. at 2275-76. The Court expressly noted
that quot;it likely would be both an impractical and unprecedented extension of judicial power to
assume that habeas corpus would be available at the moment the prisoner is taken into custody.quot;
Id. Practical obstacles related to the military mission might loom large absent this buffer, but by
providing a quot;reasonable amount of timequot; before meaningful review is required, those obstacles
become more manageable. Such a reasonable time period elapsed for these detainees, like those
at Guantanamo, many years ago.
The impact on the military mission is not the only practical obstacle that may stand in the
way of the Suspension Clause reaching Bagram. In Boumediene, the Supreme Court also noted
the possibility of friction with the host government. See 128 S. Ct. at 2261. There was no such
friction at Guantanamo, the Supreme Court reasoned, because quot;[n]o Cuban court has jurisdiction
over . . . the enemy combatants detained there . . . . [T]he United States is, for all practical
purposes, answerable to no other sovereign for its acts on the base.quot; Id.
At Bagram, however, there is a real possibility of friction with the Afghan government
with respect to Afghan detainees. quot;[P]ursuant to a diplomatic arrangement reached with the
Government of Afghanistan, a significant percentage of the Afghan detainees at [Bagram] is
expected to be transferred to the Government of Afghanistan.quot; Tennison Decl. ¶ 16. The Afghan
government has renovated a prison to house such detainees, id., and respondents represent that
the transfer has already begun, see Resps.' Maqaleh Rep. at 19. Hence, Afghan detainees now in
U.S. custody are subject to transfer to Afghan custody. Friction with the Afghan government
could arise if a U.S. court were to entertain Afghan detainees' habeas petitions. It is by no
measure unlikely that a federal court -- sitting in the United States and applying the standards
used in analogous habeas cases involving Guantanamo detainees -- would arrive at a different
result than an Afghan court applying an entirely different process and legal standards. Moreover,
if granted, the habeas remedy -- release -- could create substantial friction with the Afghan
government. If a U.S. court were to order the release of an Afghan detainee, the prime
destination for such release would be Afghanistan -- the country of that detainee's citizenship and
detention. Such unilateral releases of Bagram detainees by the United States could easily upset
the delicate diplomatic balance the United States has struck with the host government.
In the cases now before the Court, only Wazir is an Afghan citizen, and hence only he is
subject to such transfer. Al Bakri and al-Najar have no connection whatever with Afghanistan
aside from the fact of their detention there. Al Maqaleh claims to have been captured outside
Afghanistan, though respondents contest that claim. For the purpose of this motion to dismiss,
however, the Court must accept the facts alleged by al Maqaleh as true. Al Bakri, al-Najar and al
Maqaleh are, for all practical purposes, no different than the detainees at Guantanamo. No
Afghan court has jurisdiction to hear the claims they raise here. They are not subject to transfer
to Afghan custody, so the United States is quot;answerable to no other sovereignquot; for their detention,
as at Guantanamo. See Boumediene, 128 S. Ct. at 2261. For Wazir, however, the United States
may be answerable to Afghanistan to some degree. And, as discussed above, it is possible -- if
not likely -- that review of Wazir's habeas petition by this Court could cause friction with the
Afghan government. Hence, the practical obstacles factor affects Wazir differently than it does
the other three petitioners.
Lastly, in evaluating the practical obstacles relevant to the extension of the Suspension
Clause to Guantanamo, the Supreme Court noted that quot;if the detention facility were located in an
active theater of war, arguments that issuing the writ would be 'impracticable or anomalous'
would have more weight.quot; Boumediene, 128 S. Ct. at 2261-62. Bagram is in such an quot;active
theater of warquot; and the Court recognizes that the path to providing habeas review for these
petitioners is likely strewn with more practical obstacles than was the case for detainees at
Guantanamo. But this Court is not persuaded that the impact will be as dire as respondents
maintain. The United States has firm control over the Bagram detention facility, and the United
States has provided detainees with far greater wartime process in past settings. Practical
difficulties of gathering evidence and managing the habeas process are mitigated by
technological advances and the fact that these petitioners were not captured on the Afghan
battlefield. Only a limited subset of detainees -- non-Afghans captured beyond Afghan borders --
will be affected by this ruling, and practical obstacles are diminished further because the
Executive has had a reasonable amount of time before meaningful review will be required --
indeed, it is more than six years since these petitioners were first apprehended. And for three of
the four petitioners, there is no possibility of friction with the host government because the
Afghan government has no interest in their detention. Only as to the fourth, Wazir, is there a
possibility of such friction.21
In sum, this Court is sensitive to the Supreme Court's observation that practical obstacles
could make habeas review quot;impracticable and anomalousquot; for detainees held in an active theater
of war. Yet respondents' repeated reliance on this dictum cannot shield the Executive's detention
of these petitioners at Bagram entirely from review. The only reason these petitioners are in an
active theater of war is because respondents brought them there. And it would be far more
anomalous to allow respondents to preclude a detainee's habeas rights by choosing to put him in
harm's way through detention in a theater of war. Providing habeas review for petitioners al
Bakri, al-Najar and al Maqaleh is not so onerous, so fraught with danger, or so likely to cause
friction with the Afghan government as to warrant depriving them of the protections of the Great
E. Balancing of Factors
Based on this assessment, the Court must determine whether, on balance, considering all
the Boumediene factors, these four petitioners may invoke the Suspension Clause. If so, then
MCA § 7(a), which strips this Court of jurisdiction to consider habeas petitions filed by enemy
combatants, is unconstitutional as applied to them. The Court has discussed each factor at length
Of course, if respondents are truly concerned about the logistical obstacles and burdens
associated with affording habeas review to these few petitioners at Bagram, transfer to a non-
battlefield location remains an option.
and will not repeat that analysis here. For three of the factors -- citizenship, site of apprehension,
and status -- the analysis for these petitioners is roughly the same as it was for the petitioners in
Boumediene. For the site of detention factor, Bagram is subject to more complete U.S. control
than was true for Landsberg Prison in Eisentrager, yet the Court does not conclude that Bagram,
like Guantanamo, is quot;not abroad.quot; Still, the United States has a high quot;objective degree of
controlquot; over Bagram, which is the standard articulated in Boumediene for assessing the site of
detention factor. This factor, then, cuts somewhat less in favor of extension of the Suspension
Clause to Bagram than it did in Boumediene, but does not weigh strongly against extension. As
to the adequacy of process factor, the United States provides less process at Bagram than at
Guantanamo and far less process at Bagram than it did for the petitioners in Eisentrager. This
factor, then, strongly favors petitioners' claim for habeas protection. Lastly, with respect to
practical obstacles, the sixth and final factor, there may be greater practical obstacles to litigating
habeas cases for detainees at Bagram than for detainees at Guantanamo, although modern
technology mitigates the concerns. Nonetheless, for detainees who are Afghan citizens, the
possibility of friction with the host country cannot be discounted and constitutes a significant
practical obstacle to habeas review. But for detainees at Bagram who are not Afghan citizens
and who were not captured within Afghanistan, the practical obstacles are not so substantial as to
defeat their invocation of the Suspension Clause -- especially when it is considered that these
petitioners were apprehended elsewhere more than six years ago and are only in the Afghan
theater of war because the United States chose to send them there.
Respondents have repeatedly cautioned that such a conclusion is tantamount to a holding
that the Constitution quot;applies to the four corners of the earth.quot; See Tr. at 6. That is an
overstatement. To begin with, the Court's holding is limited to the Suspension Clause, as is true
of Boumediene, and is narrowly drawn to these specific petitioners at Bagram The result here is
reached through a rigorous application of the multi-factor test dictated by the Supreme Court.
The Suspension Clause only applies where the United States has the degree of control over a site
that would permit meaningful review of an individual's detention following a quot;reasonable amount
of time.quot; See Boumediene, 128 S. Ct. at 2276. And even then, if practical obstacles, like the
possibility of friction with the host government, are too great, then detainees may not claim the
protections of the writ. Moreover, if the Executive decides to provide greater process in
determining the status of detainees, the balance of factors could shift against extension of the
Suspension Clause. This Court is convinced that this is the kind of practical, functional analysis
the Supreme Court has mandated in Boumediene.
It is worth repeating that the Bagram detainees in these cases are virtually identical to the
Guantanamo detainees in Boumediene, and the circumstances of their detention are quite similar
as well. While noting those very features of the detainees and their detention, the Supreme Court
in Boumediene observed that quot;the cases before us lack any precise historical parallelquot; although
that quot;is no barrier to our holding.quot; 128 S. Ct. at 2262. Here, of course, there is a very close
historical precedent -- Boumediene itself, which compels this outcome.
F. Whether Congress Has Provided An Adequate Substitute
The remaining question in the Suspension Clause analysis is whether Congress has
provided an adequate substitute for habeas. See Boumediene, 128 S. Ct. at 2262. In
Boumediene, the Supreme Court conducted a thoughtful and detailed analysis of this question,
holding that the process set forth in the Detainee Treatment Act was not an adequate substitute
for habeas review. See 128 S. Ct. 2262-74. Here, this question is not even presented.
Respondents do not claim, nor could they after Boumediene, that the process Bagram detainees
receive is an adequate substitute for habeas corpus. Bagram detainees receive substantially less
process than Guantanamo detainees do. Hence, this Court's inquiry begins and ends with the first
part of the analysis, and the Court's conclusion that the Suspension Clause extends to three of the
four petitioners at Bagram compels the determination that MCA § 7(a) is unconstitutional as
applied to them.
III. Petitioners' Remaining Arguments
Petitioners maintain that there are four other grounds to deny respondents' motions to
dismiss: the MCA constitutes a usurpation of the Judiciary's Article III powers; the MCA
amounts to a permanent suspension of the writ of habeas corpus; the jurisdiction-stripping
provisions of the MCA do not apply to them; and respondents are violating petitioners' rights
under constitutional, statutory, and international law. Although the Court holds today that three
of the four petitioners may seek habeas review based on the Suspension Clause analysis
explained above, the Court will consider these remaining arguments to determine whether they
provide Wazir -- the sole petitioner who is not entitled to habeas review under the Suspension
Clause analysis -- with an alternate route to habeas review in this Court. The Court rejects three
of these four arguments because of their circularity. They only provide an alternate vehicle for
habeas review if MCA § 7(a) is otherwise unconstitutional, and the Court has already determined
under the Boumediene test that MCA § 7(a) is not unconstitutional as applied to Wazir. As to
the fourth argument -- the usurpation of Article III powers -- the Court requires further briefing.